Too Little, Too Late: Texas Tech drops to 0-2 in Big 12 play after falling just short vs. No. 3 Kansas, 75-72

Jan 3, 2023; Lubbock, Texas, USA; Kansas Jayhawks forward Jalen Wilson (10) takes a three-point shot over Texas Tech Red Raiders forward Kevin Obanor (0) in the first half at United Supermarkets Arena. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Too Little, Too Late: Texas Tech drops to 0-2 in Big 12 play after falling just short vs. No. 3 Kansas, 75-72

No. 3 Kansas 75, Texas Tech 72

Texas Tech fell to 0-2 in Big 12 play with Tuesday night’s 75-72 loss to No. 3 Kansas at United Supermarkets Arena. Junior point guard Dajuan Harris Jr. led the Jayhawks with 18 points on 5-for-5 from behind the 3-point arc, while Kevin Obanor poured in 26 points for Tech. Kansas made 11-of-24 3-pointers on the night, keeping its distance from the Red Raiders throughout the second half before surviving a late scare.

Lubbock has become a house of horrors for opposing Big 12 teams, but especially when that visitor is a perennial national championship contender with a former Red Raider in the starting lineup. Texas Tech entered Tuesday night with a 29-game home winning streak, second-longest in the country. Kevin McCullar Jr., who transferred to Kansas after three seasons at Texas Tech, was greeted with loud boos and chants of expletives from Tech fans as he entered the floor and every time he touched the ball.

The Red Raiders immediately ignited the crowd with a hot start, and McCullar picked up two fouls in the game’s first 3:18. Kansas already trailed 13-5 when head coach Bill Self pulled McCullar from the game to avoid further foul trouble. Texas Tech guard Pop Isaacs helped spark the early advantage by making three of his first four 3-pointers, but junior sensation Jalen Wilson kept the Jayhawks within reach. Wilson and Dajuan Harris Jr. combined for 18 of the Jayhawks’ first 20 points, and Kansas tied the game at 20 with 11 minutes to go in the first half.

Kevin McCullar’s first points of the night came on a three-pointer with just under nine minutes to before halftime, giving Kansas a 26-25 lead and welcoming even louder boos from the crowd. The Red Raiders and Jayhawks exchanged leads as the first half wore on, but Texas Tech head coach Mark Adams was forced to call a timeout at the 3:25 mark of the first half after four straight Kansas possessions produced points to push the Jayhawks’ lead to 37-34.  

Kansas finished the half on an 11-2 run, and led the Red Raiders 43-36 at the break. The Red Raiders trailed in large part because of their inability to run their offense as smoothly as the Jayhawks. Kansas finished the first half with 15 assists to Texas Tech’s four, and turned the Red Raiders’ offense over nine times. Jalen Wilson had 13 points at halftime, while freshman guard Pop Isaacs led the Red Raiders with 11.

Texas Tech’s deficit reached double digits early in the second half at 48-38, but the Jayhawks struggled to pull away. Kevin Obanor’s 3-pointer pulled Tech back within five, trailing 57-52 at the under-12 timeout.

The Red Raiders continued to stay within reach as the second half wore on, but could never seem to get over the hump. When Kansas guard Dajuan Harris reached a career-high 18 points with his fifth 3-pointer of the night, the Jayhawks’ lead extended to 70-60 with just under four minutes to play.

Texas Tech kept fighting. After a pair of threes by Kevin Obanor and two free throws by Pop Isaacs, the Red Raiders trailed just 71-68 with 2:07 remaining. After Mark Adams deployed a zone defense and Texas Tech picked up a stop on the ensuing possession, Daniel Batcho’s layup pulled the Red Raiders within one with 90 seconds remaining. After the teams exchanged layups, Texas Tech’s defense picked up a massive stop when Gradey Dick’s 3-pointer rimmed out with 31 seconds left. Tech called timeout, setting up a possession with 25.1 seconds left, trailing 73-72. 

After the timeout, a frantic drive into the lane by Pop Isaacs resulted in a turnover that should have been ruled a foul on the Jayhawks; moments later, Kansas forward K.J. Adams viciously dunked at the other end to extend the Jayhawks’ lead back to three with five seconds to go.

Kevin Obanor’s tightly contested 3-point attempt at the buzzer never came close, and the Jayhawks escaped with a three-point win. The back-to-back losses represent Tech’s first time losing two straight under head coach Mark Adams, and keep the Red Raiders winless in conference play.

Texas Tech will next be in action Saturday versus the Oklahoma Sooners in Lubbock.

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